Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) is the Tanzania’s human rights advocacy organization. LHRC was established in 1995 as a non-governmental, voluntary, non-partisan and not-for-profit sharing organization, with the purpose of working to empower and conscientize the people of Tanzania on legal and human rights. Before its registration, in September 1995, LHRC was a human rights project of the Tanzania Legal Education Trust (TANLET). Its main purpose is to strive to empower the public, promote, reinforce and safeguard human rights and good governance in Tanzania.
The founders were disillusioned by the State and its policies which were, slowly, alienating the majority of the people. They observed increasing human rights violations such as land evictions of Masai pastoralists, human rights abuses of the people of Hanang whose land had been acquired by the Government and turned into big wheat farms of NAFCO and there were alarming numbers of citizens finding themselves in problems mostly because of ignorance of the law and of their rights. Therefore, human rights camps organised by the University of Dar es Salaam started to raise awareness on issues of human rights and citizen’s responsibility
As civil servants, the lecturers wanted to avoid the risks involved in challenging the State and hence decided to set up an independent, non- governmental human rights centre. LHRC was then established.
LHRC being an advocacy organisation, this program is a hub where advocacy issues tapped from other units are compiled, analyzed and processed, kept in database and worked upon accordingly.
The program responds to both preplanned issues and instantaneously erupting issues. The Unit also runs the Constitutional database and other LHRC databases; therefore one of the officers is a professional in IT and database.
The program is highly involved in the law making process in Tanzania and for that reason it reacts to analysis of bills from the parliament and law reforms from various ministries. The program works very closely with the Legal Aid Clinics to acquire issues for advocacy as well as advising for strategic litigations. Also to complement its advocacy initiatives, the program collaborates with Mass Education and Information for media advocacy.
From its establishment in 1995, Legal and Human Rights Centre has been forging for the attainment of the people-centered constitution in Tanzania. To complement the effort, LHRC designed a specific program to oversee, organize and coordinate all activities and interventions around constitutional change.
The program frontlines all movements that aim at attaining citizens centered constitution by accomplishing the following:
a. Employ participatory, interactive and structured civic education, take the lead in engaging Tanzanians to develop the kind of constitution that they want and ensure that their voices are not scraped.
b. Engage in movements aiming at driving citizens to demand constitutional change and empower them to be able to uphold their interests in the constitution.
c. Forge new alliances with other CSO's, faith-based organizations, trade unions, universities and people from distinct locations, sectors, movements, ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds so that there is a critical mass of Tanzanians demanding a constitution that embraces public interests.
d. Empower marginalized communities and special groups such as women and children to demand the constitution that guarantees their welfare.
e. Invest on informal rural civic awareness on the constitution, human rights, and responsibilities.
The Legal and Human Rights Centre’s endeavors targets the general public that cannot be effectively reached and influenced but through media use. Mass Education and Information program contributes to almost all the expected outcomes of LHRC works ranging from advocacy for change of law, policy and practice to awareness raising; increasing understanding and knowledge to the public on issues of human rights and the law.
LHRC under this program coordinates seminars, trainings, workshops and develop media programs on human rights and good governance to sensitize and create awareness to the public. It also engages media for press releases and press conferences to address issues around human rights and good governance. LHRC has not ignored the rise of social media as it deploys effective use of internet media such as YouTube, Blogs, Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram.
Together with media use, LHRC deploys use of paralegals to empower local communities on legal and human rights affairs. LHRC has paralegals in 28 districts of different regions in Tanzania mainland.
Networking UPR and APRM
Legal and Human Rights Centre's credibility has been highly contributed by its ability to effectively collaborate with others when it comes to working with like-minded affiliates to advocate for human rights and justice. Being into so many coalitions costs LHRC nothing but build the capacity and efficiency of the organization in dealing with human rights violations in Tanzania.
This program is dedicated to not only overseeing how the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania fairs in international commitments but also how LHRC intervenes with other organizations and international instruments. The program strives to ensure:
a. Increased mutual engagement with like-minded organizations to advocate for government implementation of recommendations from international and regional mechanisms counting Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) recommendations.
b. Compliance of the Tanzania legal system with international standards.
c. LHRC works on advocacy through the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) where the LHRC has an observer status.
d. LHRC works on UN instruments reporting obligations and coordinate writing of shadow reports and other related international Human Rights reports.
Human Rights Monitoring
Human rights monitoring is a unique program designed to instantly track and respond to incidents of human rights violation. The program encompasses systematic tracking, documenting and responding to violations through well-defined methodologies:
a. LHRC works closely with trained human rights monitors and paralegals designated from more than 28 districts in different regions of Tanzania mainland. Paralegals and human rights monitors double as major informers of rights violation and messengers during issues follow up.
b. After receiving incidents of human rights violation, LHRC analyses and identify issues for advocacy and plot for redress to the victims.
c. The program provides for both direct and indirect redress to the victims of rights violation. The Centre establishes networks for referral, linkages and engagement to address issues of human rights violations with various state agents and departments e.g. police force and immigration.
d. LHRC goes further to solicit and organize consultation sessions with identified duty bearers and stakeholders to present issues that need their attention. Under LHRC works closely with Tanzania Police Force following the memorandum of understating (MoU) signed by LHRC and Tanzania Police Force.
e. In addition, LHRC under this program oversees the wellbeing of human rights clubs in Tanzania mainland
Research and Fact Finding
This program coordinates all fact findings and researches conducted by the Legal and Human Rights Centre to prepare annually and biannually produced Tanzania Human Rights Report. In collaboration with Zanzibar Legal Services Centre (ZLSC), LHRC has been producing Tanzania Human Rights Report since 2002.
Apart from fact findings and production of human rights reports the program is responsible for linking LHRC with other research institution to strengthen human rights researches.
Human Rights and Business
Human Rights and Business is a program designed to deal with issues around corporate and government accountability in the promotion of human rights and environmental justice. Under this program, LHRC works to ensure the government and companies in undertaking economic activities adhere to UN Guiding Principles. Also, LHRC strives to see companies and the governments inculcate three duties of Human Rights and Business which are Duty to Protect, Duty to Respect and Access to remedies. This program offers but not limited to:
a. Documentation of human rights violations related to conducts of businesses in the country and prepares Tanzania Human Rights and Business Report.
b. Engagement with Government on its duty to protect - Awareness raising, roundtable discussions with government, agencies, parliamentarians, councilors to establish a framework for protection such as the Human Rights and Business National Action Plans, policy etc.
c. Engagement with regional and international forums e.g. UN Forums and ACCA forums to promote UN Guiding Principles.
d. Engagement with corporations on duty to respect - Awareness creation, dialogues with corporations and facilitate strategic interest litigation.
e. Engagement with communities on Access to Remedy, community empowerment and awareness raising, assist communities with grievance mechanisms for redress - legal and/or administrative.
Gender and Children
The LHRC deals with issues of women and children in promoting their rights on the aspect of advocacy for reform/ change of law, policy, and practice. As a result of the growing number of reports on violation of women and children rights LHRC found it vital to design a specified program to systematically identify, track and document incidents of women's rights violations and engage with various institutions and stakeholders for the purposes of calling for accountability, safeguarding and promotion of the group's rights.
Gender and Children program thrives to raise awareness and empower the general public as well as the target groups (women/ children) through seminars, training, workshops and media programs on gender equality, women and children’s rights.
Further, the Unit collaborates with a number of networks that are working on women and children agendas to promote the welfare of women and children in Tanzania.
Internally, LHRC has an effective gender policy known to every staff, paralegals, human rights monitors and all members of the organization. The policy sees the LHRC vision as a noble pursuit, rooted in the best of humanity and consistent with dignity for all. This policy has been mainstreamed into all LHRC programmes.